Advanced Television

German army wants its own LEO system

November 13, 2023

By Chris Forrester

The Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, reportedly wants its own multi-satellite communications system.

Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius said on November 9th that it was time for Germany to be “a grown up country” in terms of its security policy. Pistorius said Russia’s war against Ukraine had altered the role of Germany and the Bundeswehr and that Germany must be the backbone of deterrence and collective defence in Europe.

Part of that defensive objective – and reported by Janes Information Services – is an increase in its defence budget. One element is reportedly funding for up to 24 satellites in a mix of geostationary, mid-Earth and low-Earth orbiting craft.

The news emerged during the Global MilSatCom event in London, which very much focuses on military and governmental satellites.

Speaking at the London conference, and quoted by Janes, Major General Michael Färber, director of capability development and Bundeswehr digitisation, Cyber and Information Domain Service, said his nation’s ambition was to have a MEO satellite communications constellation from 2032 onwards to reach “our diversification goal of a sovereign operated multi-orbital system in GEO and LEO [low Earth orbit], and MEO”.

The German army currently operates a pair of GEO satcom satellites – COMSATBw-1 and COMSATBw-2 – due to reach their operational end-of-life by 2028. A replacement programme called ‘SATCOMBw Stage 3′ aims to supply new satellites with new systems – COMSATBw 1B and 2B – from 2028/29. According to Major General Färber, a third satellite will be added at a later date.

Alongside these plans there is also the need to integrate Germany’s military requirements into the European Union’s planned multi-orbit IRIS² (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection & Security by Satellites) satcom constellation and utilise its LEO services.

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